Just a few weeks ago, Blacklisted announced that they'll be returning the stage for two shows in October after a long hiatus. That in itself would be newsworthy within hardcore circles, but the fact that Unbroken will also be on the dates is the cherry on top.
For the uninitiated, Blacklisted formed in the early '00s out of the Philadelphia hardcore scene. During their initial run together, the group issued four studio albums and a slew of EPs, plus other assorted releases and appearances.
The last time Blacklisted played any live dates was back in 2018 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God album, one of the best hardcore releases of its decade.
I reached out to Blacklisted vocalist George Hirsch (he's currently in the excellent Staticlone), to talk about the upcoming shows, what Unbroken means to him, and what the future holds for the Philly hardcore vets.
How long has these two shows with Unbroken been in the works?
There was an offer to play with Unbroken in Philadelphia within the last year, but the entire show never happened, and at that point we were still very undecided. I'm not sure of the details of why it didn’t happen.
I think the second or third week of July we confirmed we would play the two that are happening. And we were only asked mid June? It hasn’t really been long.
I am still undecided as I type this. The other people in the band are more available to people than I am, so maybe they field more questions about it, but in my world I never get asked about Blacklisted, so I pretty much figured it faded into obscurity.
Any instances where I have been approached about Blacklisted, are usually funny—“Play 'Eye for An Eye' echoing down the aisle of a Mariano's supermarket in Chicago at 6:30 pm on a Thursday.
So, you were hesitant to get back in the saddle.
Yes, completely hesitant. I've said it before but I had really bitter experiences with Blacklisted.
I started the band to connect with people, and it doesn’t feel like I accomplished that, it often feels like the complete opposite, but I really don’t know Blacklisted's true honest place, I don’t know anything about it. I have no idea if it aged well, if people ever even liked it, if there is a place for it now, etc. I know its been a thing in my life longer than it hasn’t been, so that’s something.
How much rehearsal time are you planning on putting in before the shows? I imagine it’s tough getting everyone together with members being spread out in different cities. What’s the lineup we can expect in terms of members?
We already started the rehearsal stuff. We all play music still, with each other and separately. So that was pretty easy to figure out. Staticlone is finishing up an LP currently, so we just have to have one other person there and its a Blacklisted practice. All four of us actually all live in Philadelphia again. So, rehearsing is actually pretty easy.
The lineup will be the last one that played shows five years ago. Nothing surprising.
Side note: I would play music with Zach [Trotta]—one of hardcore's hidden best drummers in my opinion—and Jay [Pepito] again, if given the opportunity. Not Blacklisted, but something. That is a huge possibility on my end. And at one point us three talked about it. Not that you asked [laughs].
Since you won’t be supporting a specific record, how are you approaching the setlist for these two shows?
I have no idea. Blacklisted is a mystery to me. Maybe the albums are polarizing. It's hard to know what to play, besides our own personal “we like this so we play it.”
Dave made this email for people to email and say what they want to hear or anything else: [email protected]
What does Unbroken mean to you? When and how did you discover them back in the day?
Unbroken was important in making me feel like there was space for me in hardcore. There are a few bands that if they didn’t do it first, I’m not sure I would have made the type of hardcore I have.
When I was younger I worshipped Floorpuch, in my opinion, they are one of the greatest that ever did it. But at their gigs, I never felt connected to anyone or anything there. I just loved the band and that was that. With Unbroken, there is an atmosphere that really connects with people. They are powerful. I’ve always wanted that. It's why I started Blacklisted, I've said it a million times—my desire to connect with people.
I'm not sure when I first heard them, I have this weird memory that this older promoter from Philadelphia (Robby Redcheeks) that I used to pester about bands and zines played it for me? But I might be mixing it up with something else.
These shows will undoubtedly bring on this following question: Will there be more Blacklisted shows/tours coming in the near future?
I doubt it. Like I said above, I don’t even know Blacklisted's place. It doesn’t seem like the modern hardcore scene would be welcoming or connect with it. We would have to make new music, which would probably be impossible, since we all already have so many other projects going on. But I guess anything is possible.
My goal in doing the shows is to try and do it and feel good about it after its done. Versus when we went on hiatuses before and I only had negative feelings towards it. So, I guess its more of a personal thing, not really a planned future.